Archives for 2019-02

Commodity Classic Underway in Orlando, Florida

Our Hometown Illinois Radio Network division, is covering the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida.  Here are our 3 reports airing on on Thursday, February 28.


Report 1:



Report 2:



Report 3:



Commodity Classic Getting Underway in Orlando, Florida

The Commodity Classic is getting underway this week in Orlando, Florida.  Our Hometown Illinois Radio Network is covering the Classic, which is the combined meeting of several ag trade groups, including the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association.


Here are our reports airing on on Wednesday.


Report 1:



Report 2:



Report 3:



Reports continue on thru Friday.

Piatt County Soil and Water Conservation District Foundation Offers Scholarship


The Piatt County SWCD Foundation will be offering a scholarship this year. Administrative Coordinator Angela Daily states “The Foundation is excited to introduce this $1,000.00 scholarship for the first time! We have decided this is a good way to give back to our supporters and communities”. The Hugh Hammond Bennett Scholarship will target individuals interested in furthering their education in any Ag or Natural Resources related field.

Applications are available at the Piatt County SWCD Office located at 1209 Bear Lane in Monticello, or on our website


To be eligible, individuals will be required to meet three of the following criteria:

     1. Currently enrolled in a school district that serves Piatt County.
     2. A prior graduate of a school district that serves Piatt County.
     3. Accepted to any post-secondary school and pursuing an agricultural or natural resource
         related degree or certification.
     4. Currently enrolled in any post-secondary school and pursuing an agricultural or natural

         resource related degree or certification.
     5. Have resided in Piatt County at some point in the last 5 years.

Applications must be emailed or postmarked by APRIL 30, 2019 to either of the following:




Mailing address: Piatt County SWCD
                           1209 Bear Lane
                           Monticello, Il 61856


Angela also mentioned, “Any questions pertaining to the scholarship should be directed to our office,
the phone number is 217-762-2146 x 3. Again, applications received on or before April 30, 2019 will be reviewed and one $1,000 scholarship will be awarded with the individual being contacted by June 10, 2019. Thanks and good luck.”

Precision Conservation Management Quarterly Dinner

Join Precision Conservation Management on March 8th to learn more about PCM, experiences with cover crops, and insight on cover crop termination.  RSVP to David Fulton, Conservation Specialist 

Precision Conservation Management, Serving Piatt, DeWitt, and Macon Counties by calling 217-871-0435 or emailing, by March 1st to save your seat.*


National Sequestration Education Center
3357 N President Howard Brown Blvd, Decatur, IL 62521

FREE Meal included with RSVP, catering by Griffins' BBQ  

FREE Program on Cover Crops


11:30 PM - Lunch

11:50 PM - PCM update with Dave Fulton, Precision Conservation Management 

12:15 PM - Farmer Panel with Allen Williams, Steve McCoy, and Eric Miller. Moderated by Abigail Peterson, Soil Health Partnership

12:50 PM -  Cover Crops & Termination Strategy with Pete Fandel, Illinois Central College

1:30 PM - Adjourn 


*Each attendee is permitted two guests, limited number of seats available

If a disability request or dietary/allergy specification needs to be accounted for, please inform Dave Fulton during the time of RSVP. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider. 


USDA Payments Provide Boost to Farmer Sentiment in January

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rebounded sharply in January to a reading of 143, a 16-point improvement compared to December and the highest Barometer reading since June 2018. The January survey provided the first opportunity to measure farmer sentiment following USDA’s announcement that the second round of Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments would be made to soybean producers and it was also the first survey taken following passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), both of which appear to have helped boost farmer sentiment. In particular, total MFP payments (first and second installments, combined) to U.S. soybean farmers were estimated by USDA to be about $7.3 billion, providing a significant revenue boost to most Corn Belt farming operations.


The jump in the barometer from December to January was driven by increases in both of the barometer’s sub-indices but the biggest improvement was in the Index of Current Conditions, which rose to a reading of 132 from 109 a month earlier. In comparison, the Index of Future Expectations rose to 148 in January, 13 points above its December reading of 135 and its highest value since February 2017. The rise in the Current Conditions Index took it back to just below its June 2018 level.


Producers indicated they were more inclined to view making large investments in their farming operations favorably on the January survey than they did a month earlier. The Large Farm Investment Index rose to 62 in January, 11 points above its December value and the highest reading for the investment index since last June. Although the index was still below a year earlier in January, it has increased substantially over the last several months. The index bottomed out at 42 in September and has risen every month since then, except December when a modest decline occurred.


Although producers held a more favorable view of making investments in machinery and buildings in January than in late 2018, that perspective did not seem to carry over into their view of farmland values. When asked for their expectations for farmland values in the upcoming 12 months, producers’ attitude actually weakened slightly compared to November 2018 (the last time farmland value questions were posed) as the percentage expecting higher values declined from 17 to 13 percent and the percentage expecting lower prices drifted down to 21 from 22 percent. Producers longer term view of farmland values also weakened compared to November as the percentage expecting higher values declined 2 points to 48 percent and the percentage expecting lower values rose 4 points to 13 percent.


What’s going to happen with respect to trade negotiations continues to weigh heavily on U.S. farmers’ minds. In January, producers indicated that they were a bit more optimistic about the future for agricultural trade as 63 percent responded that they expect U.S. ag exports to increase over the next 5 years, compared to 59 percent in December. More significantly, the percentage of farmers expecting ag exports to decline over the next five years declined to just 7 percent, the lowest percentage since we first posed this question in May 2017, compared to 26 percent a month earlier.


There continues to be a lot of uncertainty regarding a possible shift in acreage between corn and soybeans in 2019. We asked producers that planted soybeans in 2018 what their plans are for 2019. Twenty-five percent of respondents that planted soybeans last year said they plan to reduce their soybean acreage in 2019 while two-thirds (67%) expect no change in their soybean acreage. Among those soybean farmers that expect to reduce soybean acreage, 58 percent of them expect to reduce their soybean acreage by more than 10% whereas the remaining 42 percent expect their acreage decline to be 10% or less.


Looking ahead to the rest of 2019, producers indicated that 2019 is poised to be a challenging year for many farm operations. A majority of producers (57%) indicated they expect their farms’ operating expenses to increase this year with 38 percent expecting operating expenses to be about the same, both compared to 2018. When asked if they expect livestock and grain prices to increase to levels that will substantially improve their farm’s financial situation in the next year, 70 percent of respondents said no. More specifically, when asked about their soybean price expectations, four out of 10 respondents (43%) said they expect November 2019 soybean futures to fall below $8.50 sometime between mid-January and summer 2019. Looking at their farm’s financial situation, 25 percent of respondents said they expect to have a larger farm operating loan in 2019 than in 2018. Among those expecting to have a larger operating loan, over half (53%) said it was because input costs increased. However, just over one-fourth (27%) said it was because they were carrying over unpaid operating debt from prior years, suggesting that their farm operation is under financial stress.


Wrapping Up


Producer sentiment improved markedly in January compared to a month earlier. Producers view of current conditions and expectations for the future both improved, but the large improvement in farmers’ perspective on current conditions was the biggest driver behind the Ag Economy Barometer’s increase. The boost in revenue provided by USDA’s MFP payments and the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, both of which took place in December but after the December survey was conducted, were likely responsible for some of the improvement in farmers’ sentiment. The sentiment improvement spilled over into a more optimistic perspective on making large investments in items like machinery and buildings as the Large Farm Investment Index rose 11 points in December to reach its highest level since last June. Although producers looked more favorably upon investing in machinery and buildings, that did not carry over into their views regarding future farmland values which weakened somewhat over both a 12-month and 5-year time horizon.


Looking ahead to plans for 2019, nearly one-fourth of farmers that planted soybeans in 2018 plan to reduce their soybean acreage this year whereas just 8 percent plan to increase their soybean acreage. Among those that plan to reduce acreage, 58 percent plan to reduce their acreage by 10 percent or more. This was a lower percentage than recorded on the November 2018 survey when 69 percent of growers planning to reduce soybean acreage said they expected to reduce soybean acreage by 10 percent or more.




$25,000 Gift to Grow On-farm Student Learning for CU Schools Foundation

The Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF) received an early holiday gift when Farm Credit Illinois donated $25,000 for an outdoor educational pavilion to be built at Fowler Farm, just west of Champaign. Kelly Hill, CUSF’s Executive Director says, “Fowler Farm has continued to grow as an outdoor classroom for science, agriculture and environmental sustainability. We are honored to have Farm Credit Illinois recognize the value of investing in these types of transformative experiences for students.”























Julie Anders, Edison Middle School Science teacher and lead educator for the CUSF grant funded program at Fowler Farm is excited to bring more students out to experience the farm activities. “This type of community support gives students real life experience with issues of food production, nutrition and ecological awareness. The Farm Credit Learn & Grow Pavilion, will become a shared place of ownership for the students...just as they refer to "my school" and “my teacher" this space will also become "our farm" and "our Learn and Grow Pavilion" a shared space with a sense of community.”


“Providing today’s youth with engaging agricultural learning experiences in an outdoor classroom connects them with the soil and food in a tangible way,” says Tom Tracy, President & CEO Farm Credit Illinois. "We are grateful for the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation’s vision and the opportunity to fund the Farm Credit Learn & Grow Pavilion at Fowler Farm.”

CUSF Executive Director Hill continues, “with the funds secured, we will begin working with a generous group of professionals and community volunteers to complete the pavilion.  We hope to have the pavilion completed and ready for student use in late spring.”


About the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation: CU Schools Foundation is an independent, non-profit corporation dedicated to enhancing the quality of education in Champaign-Urbana through community support of the public schools. The Foundation’s goal is to elevate excellence by partnering with the Champaign and Urbana public school community to change the lives of the educators and students served.


About Farm Credit Illinois: Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture as a farmer-owned lending cooperative. FCI is owned by 8,500 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the central and southern 60 counties of Illinois. Invested in the future of the rural communities in which our 220 employees live and serve, FCI annually contributes $300,000 and 2,000 volunteer hours to youth, charities, and rural communities. Farm Credit Illinois is dedicated to Helping Farm Families Succeed today and tomorrow.

2019 Farm Credit Illinois Agriculture Scholarship Program

Thirty $2,000 scholarships are available to high school seniors with agricultural career aspirations, planning to enroll in an agriculture-based college curriculum next fall.  Two under-represented minority student applicants will be designated as Diversity in Agriculture Scholars.


Selection criteria includes academic achievement, participation and leadership within school and community organizations, and a commitment to pursuing an agriculture-related career. Recipients must reside – or their family must farm – in one of the 60 central and southern Illinois counties served by Farm Credit Illinois.


NEW IN 2019 – FCI has replaced the essay portion of the application with a Passion for Agriculture Video submission. Create a 30-45 second video on your phone capturing your passion for agriculture. After a quick personal introduction, showcase one specific object (i.e. momento, place, project, person, plant, animal) you treasure and describe its significance and how it helped shape your commitment to agriculture.


All applicants should complete the Application and share the Academic Verification Form link with a school official to submit. The application deadline is March 1, 2019. Contact FCI with scholarship questions at or 217-590-2200.


Recipients will receive $1,000 of the scholarship for the Fall 2019 semester and the remaining $1,000 will be available to students who continue pursuing an agricultural degree during the Fall 2021 semester.


The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) offers a full $2,000 scholarship match to 2019 Farm Credit Illinois Agriculture Scholars who enroll full-time in the College of ACES either initially in the Fall 2019 semester or as a transfer student in the Fall 2021 semester. More information about the scholarship match is available from the U of I College of ACES.

$5,000 Awards Available for Beginning Farmers

Farm Credit Illinois introduced the FreshRoots Directors Cup recognition during the two-day learning and networking FreshRoots Retreat, attended by young and beginning farmers from across FCI’s 60-county territory in Champaign this week.


The $5,000 Directors Cup presented by the FCI Board celebrates young and beginning farmers committed to continuous learning and intentional living for a brighter future for their farm family business and community. Up to four young and beginning farmers will be recognized later this spring.













The Directors Cup award is part of the FreshRoots young and beginning farmers program, which provides lending assistance and learning incentives to farmers up to age 40 or in their first 10 years of farming. Cooperative members applying must be eligible for the FreshRoots program and have been an FCI member-borrower for at least three years.


“The Board of Directors is proud to present the FreshRoots Directors Cup to young and beginning farmers prioritizing personal growth and professional development,” says Eric Mosbey, FCI Board Chair. “We are proud to support today’s newest farmers taking proactive steps to invest in their future.”


“The Directors Cup award is another tangible way FCI is Helping the Next Generation of Farm Families Succeed,” says Tom Tracy FCI President & CEO.


An online application is available at and must be submitted by March 31. Contact your local FCI office for additional information.


Pictured above: Nearly 60 young and beginning farmers participated in the FreshRoots Retreat, featuring Dr. David Kohl, Virginia Tech professor emeritus.


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